For a while now, Batgirl has been dealing with Fugue, a technological villain who can alter people’s memories while also taking information from their heads for himself. Because of Barbara’s neural implant that helps her walk (that I don’t remember being mentioned anywhere else, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist before) he can permanently affect her memories, which has led to blank spots for the last 7 issues or so, and literally losing her mind a couple issues back. After using a computerized backup of her mind to restore herself in last month’s great issue, it’s time for Batgirl and her allies to take on Fugue and his own team of villains.
In concept, this issue sounds amazing. Most of the female batman characters fighting a team of Batgirl’s rogues gallery as they’ve been building since Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher took over this series. You’ve got Harper Roy (Bluebird), Black Canary, Spoiler and Batgirl’s newest ally, Operator teaming up against a legitimate threat to all of Burnside. While this double-sized comic is fun, it unfortunately doesn’t live up to its potential.
This issue sets up Fugue’s entire plan, gives us five supervillain fights and concludes this entire plot, all in 40 pages. That’s extremely hard to pull off, especially when 8 of those pages are pin-ups or splash pages with very little text. Most of the fights are really anti-climactic, whether it’s Bluebird taking away the villains’ weapons with her magnets or Operator hacking one of the Batman bots to overwhelm the super strong Corporal Punishment. The final confrontation between Batgirl and Fugue is more satisfying than most since it plays with Fugue’s memory altering in some clever ways, but after two readings I’m a bit confused over how it happened. It does also giving Batgirl a glorious moment of sorts, but it’s still a bit anti-climactic.
In the middle of the issue, there’s an explosion that Fugue blames on Barbara’s new company (that I also don’t remember being mentioned before), and it’s kind of hand-waved away at the end of the issue, barely mentioned again. This is an example of how an overstuffed comic can feel rushed, and that maybe this issue was a bit too ambitious for the page space that it had. The optimistic ending is perfectly fitting for the tone of this Batgirl run though, and if this version of Batgirl continues into DC Rebirth (I still don’t know too much about what’s going on with the Bat family) then the status quo changes could lead to some great stories down the road.
There’s an entire team of artists in this issue so I won’t even try to keep track of who does what. There’s series regular Babs Tarr, with Roger Robinson, John Timms, Eleondra Carlini and James Harvey contributing. Harvey also does all the colouring. In any case, all of the art is great. Most of the previously mentioned pinups are “vs” pages that build up the fights in a fun way. Everything is bright and colourful, the action flows well, and facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotions. Even the different art styles work well together, and for the most part, different artists handle different fights and quiet moments.
Although this is a flawed issue that feels anti-climactic, it’s still fun to read. Batgirl regulars should still enjoy this comic – I just wouldn’t recommend this issue to new readers.
Also while I don’t know much about DC’s Rebirth just yet, I’ve heard that Superman and Lois Lane will be married again, and that Supergirl will have a new ongoing series. Those are definitely good things.